tv U.S. Senate Sen. Mc Connell Tribute to President Bush CSPAN December 4, 2018 3:57am-4:13am EST
mcconnell opened the senate with comments paying tribute to the late president george h.w. bush. following his remarks, we hear from senate democratic leader, chuck schumer. >> on friday, the 94-year-old journey of george herbert walker bush came to a close. at once, americans from all walks of life began paying tribute to this great patriot and giving thanks for his fearless heroism in wartime skies, for his dedicated expert service at the highest levels of government and one essential role after another. for his loving fatherhood of a great family. i am not the first to observe that george bush seemed like the greatest generation distilled into a single life story. the immense contributions in
both wartime and peacetime, the stunning bravery paired with quiet humility. devoted service is not cause for special praise but simply each citizen's duty. the greatest generation energy all-american accomplishments and exhibited all american virtues. and it may be just that no one did that as fully as our 41st president. thisin the ranks of remarkable generation, he will of ourut forever as one most especially remarkable sense. george months after pearl harbor, our future president celebrated his 18th birthday and high school graduation by enlisting in the navy.
it was still a teenager when he got his wings. youngest naval aviator. and he was only 20 on that fateful day in september 1944. he was piloting one of four avenger bombers aiming to take out a japanese radio tower. his plane was hit. the engine caught fire, and the cockpit began filling with smoke. but george bush kept his steady hands on the controls, rather than turn tail, he and his crew went right on with their mission and only after he'd released the bombs that successfully damaged his target did he finally bail out over the pacific. with a steady hand on the controls. more worried about doing his duty for others than about himself. george bush stayed the course. according to one biographer,
that was a key phrase for him. it concluded a list of core principles he once laid out in a letter to his mother. here's what he said. tell the truth, don't blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, and stay the course. year after year, post after post, george bush stayed the course. and he helped his country do the same. through the fog of war in the persian gulf when international order needed defending, america's commander in chief led just as steady as he had in that smoking cockpit almost 50 years earlier. and in between the pacific and the presidency, he steered us straight through countless
challenges, as a congressman, ambassador to the united nations, envoy to china, c.i.a. director, and vice president. serving capablely in just one 0 two of these posts would ensure any citizen's place in american history, but george bush served in all of them and always with excellence. on the home front, president bush wasiq a war -- president bush was a warrior for hope, optimism and opportunity. as president, he paved the way for education reform and signed legislation to give disabled americans a better shot. overseas, he was a talented diplomat and powerful champion of our interests. it was on his watch that the cold war finally ended. it freed people of europe from the shackles of communism.
but president bush knew that america should not kick up our heels and enjoy a holiday from history. we fought and won the gulf war in order to make something perfectly clear to allies and enemies alike. it had to be right and not might to fill the void. we needed, he said, a world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle and his leadership moved us toward such a world. through global change, domestic turmoil, and economic transformation, whether in jobs that he had passionately sought out or in other assignments he dutifully accepted, george bush kept us on course. he wasn't a dramatic or revolutionary leader. he didn't advertise radical change. he never quite seemed at nome the spotlight -- at home in the spotlight. instead, he offered humility and a servant's heart. he aspired to govern his country
well, preserve what was good, and improve things where possible. he wanted to keep us flying high and challenge us to fly a little higher. and he led us, as he seemingly did everything in his life, with grace and kindness that seemed almost unbelievable given all that he'd accomplished. daring aviator, chief spy, wartime president. you'd think this must be a tough and gruffy guy. but it is the man's good cheer and generous spirit that stand out most of all in our national memory. he was a prolific hand writer of notes and letters. he freely changed his own plans to make life easier for his staff or for the secret service detail. i saw recently that some years
after his presidency, he couldn't even bring himself to simply turn down a reporter's request for an interview without crafting a warm, apologetic, full-page letter explaining his rationale. his decency and attentiveness to others was a credit to his upbringing, but it wasn't only habit; it was principle. this is a man who said this in his inaugural address. in our hearts, we know what matters. we cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. we must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and town better than he found it. looking beyond the day's doctor marks issuing a deep moral challenge, george bush set the bar high.
and his country listened because we saw him meet those standards himself. george bush's gifts were many, but some gifts were greater than others. george bush and barbara pierce met at a christmas party in 1941. he described her to his mother as the nistiest girl at the dance. weeks after he returned from the war, they were married. i've climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, he would write much later but even that cannot hand hold a candle to being barbara's husband. they had six children. their marriage weathered the challenges of the spotlight. in every chapter, george bush served as comforter and counselor. he cared for loved ones with a dedication that never ceased to
amaze them. so much for the myth of the stamped episcopalian new englander. george bush was so stoic. he developed his own teary-eyed reputation as the founding member of what the bush family calls the ball brigade -- that would bawl. he was considered, people thetic, and kind. and the bushes passed on these values to their children. they nurtured a family of leaders whose contributions have enriched this country even more. few men so powerful would have even thought to call for a kinder, gentler nation. even fewer could have lived it themselves. his words literally lifted our spirits. his example inspired us. a quarter century after george bush left the oval office, his
legacy continues to directly inspire not just a thousand points of light but millions of volunteers who serve others. so, madam president, in war and peace, in public and in private, in high office and in family moments, george bush stayed the course. the greatest generation indeed. the grand heroism that saved our nation. the quiet diligence that built it up, and the basic goodness that sustains it, all in one. today the united states senate joins the nation and the bush family in mourning and in prayer. we are also joined in gratitude. we're thankful that god gave this country george bush and barbara. thankful that they built such a
loving family. and thankful they may now be reuniteed, their great loveeside democratic leader. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: we are not in a quorum. mr. schumer: madam president, in a short time, we will all gather before proceeding to the rotunda to honor the life of george herbert walker bush, the 41st president of the united states who passed away last friday. george h.w. bush will be greatly missed in many ways. he was undeniably dedicated to his country. from his time as a young meaf pilot through his long career in public service both elected and appointed as our ambassador to the u.n., envoy to china, director of the c.i.a. in a life that spanned ten decades, seven decades of george h.w. bush's life was spent in fateful and humble service to his country. although our careers intersected only briefly, i knew him to be a
fine man, a decent man, and even when he opposed your views, you knew he was doing what he thought was best for the united states of america. he embodied the characteristics we admire in a president -- integrity, civility, dignity, humility, and a sincere interest in bipartisanship. he valued public service and had respect for government as a noble force, a force for good. when he wanted to say something to someone, he would sit down to write them a handwritten and usually heartfelt note. he used the word friend often, and he meant it. his yearning for a kinder, gentler nation seems more needed now than when he first called for it. not all of his efforts will be celebrated, and of course that's true of every politician who has reached higher office, but as we look back at his life and
career, it's clear that george h.w. bush cared deeply about more than this country and its eed eels. he cared -- ideals. he cared about its citizens, no matter their situation. his early involvement in the ymca, his advocacy for americans with disability act, and his support for volunteerism and service throughout his career are testament to that fact. he called on americans to be a thousand points of light, and he was too modest to say that he and his wife barbara were two of the brightest. our hearts